Monday, January 2, 2023
In Response To Boycott, U.S. News Dramatically Changes Law School Rankings Methodology. Who Are The Winners And Losers? Will Harvard Be #1?
Robert Morse (Chief Data Strategist, U.S. News) & Stephanie Salmon (Senior Vice President For Data & Information Strategy, U.S. News), Plans for Publication of the 2023-2024 Best Law Schools:
We are writing to inform you of our plans for the publication of the 2023–2024 Best Law Schools this spring. In recent weeks, we have had conversations with more than 100 deans and representatives of law schools – well more than half of this academic leadership group. Based on those discussions, our own research and our iterative rankings review process, we are making a series of modifications in this year’s rankings that reflect those inputs and allow us to publish the best available data.
We will rank law schools in the upcoming rankings using publicly available data that law schools annually make available as required by the American Bar Association whether or not schools respond to our annual survey. For schools that do respond, we will publish more detailed profiles, enabling students to create a more comprehensive picture of their various choices. For the rankings portion, there will be some changes in how we weight certain data points, including a reduced emphasis on the peer assessment surveys of academics [25% in last year's methodology], lawyers and judges [15%], and an increased weight on outcome measures. ...
Your concerns were not identical, but did focus on a handful of areas. The main points included per student expenditures [10%], the weight of the peer assessment surveys [40%], and indicators of student debt [5%]. We also received broad feedback that the rankings should place more weight on outcomes, such as bar passage [3%] and employment outcomes [18%], thereby reflecting students’ concerns when making law school decisions. We largely agree, as demonstrated by changes made to the methodology over the years.
Some law schools that are able to offer fellowships felt they were being undervalued, thus discouraging public service careers. For the next year, we will be giving full-weight to school-funded full-time long-term fellowships where bar passage is required or where the JD degree is an advantage, and we will treat all fellowships equally. We will also be giving full-weight to those enrolled in graduate studies in the ABA employment outcomes grid.
The conversations revealed other factors, such as loan forgiveness/loan assistance repayment programs, need-based aid, and diversity and socio-economic considerations, which will require additional time and collaboration to address. In these areas we will continue to work with academic and industry leaders to develop metrics with agreed upon definitions. ...
Both of us will be at the American Association of Law Schools (AALS) meeting in San Diego from January 3-6, 2023 and welcome additional discussions.
Derek Muller (Iowa; Google Scholar), Who's Likely to Benefit From the New USNWR Law School Rankings Formula?:
So which schools might it benefiit or adversely affect the most? Let’s take a look at these three categories, and one other variable I’ll mention at the end.
1. Reduced weight to reputational survey data. ...
2. Eliminating per-student expenditures. ...
3. Counting graduates with school-funded public-interest legal fellowships or who go on to additional graduate programs the same as they would other employed graduates. ...
4. What fills the gap. ... [T]here’s much uncertainty about how it will affect many law schools. I feel fairly confident that a handful of the schools identified above as winners in several categories, including Alabama, BYU, Georgia, and Texas A&M, will benefit significantly in the end, but one never knows for sure. It also has the potential to disrupt some of the more “entrenched” schools from their positions, as the more “legacy”-oriented factors, including spending and the echo chamber of reputational surveys, will receive less value. Law schools must increasingly face the value proposition for students (e.g., lower debt, better employment outcomes), with some other potential factors in the mix, in the years ahead.
Brian Leiter (Chicago; Google Scholar), Big Changes Coming to USNews.com Rankings:
USNews.com has written to law school Deans announcing some significant changes, as a result of the boycott initiated by Yale. Here are the highlights: ...
Without per capita expenditures in the mix, I would not be surprised to see Harvard come out at #1 in the Spring But the whole rank order will be shaken up quite a bit--and in no intelligible or meaningful way of course, since the whole thing will still be a stew of factors, weighted inexplicably. So the USNews.com "reign of terror" will continue!
Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report to Revamp Parts of Its Law-School Ranking:
The shift in methodology may be due in part to necessity. Though U.S. News pulls much of its data from the American Bar Association and said it would rank schools whether or not they cooperated, it relies on schools to provide the spending figures and to complete peer-review surveys. ...
U.S. News said it would offer more detailed profiles of schools that do provide requested information, a potential incentive for institutions waffling over whether to participate but worried about falling off the radar of prospective students.
Several deans said in interviews with The Wall Street Journal that U.S. News would be in a tough spot if it punished schools that abstained too harshly.
“If the top 15 schools suddenly drop down to No. 50, the rankings don’t have much credibility,” said Russell Korobkin, interim dean of the law school at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Deans from four top-ranked schools who held meetings with Mr. Morse and Ms. Salmon in recent weeks said that the conversations were cordial and that the U.S. News representatives seemed open to criticism but didn’t offer solutions or acknowledge that this was all well-trodden territory.
Ilya Somin (George Mason), US News Makes Beneficial Changes to its Law School Rankings System:
Downgrading reputational surveys and abolishing points for per-student expenditures are steps in the right direction.
U.S. News coverage:
- Yale Law School Will No Longer Participate In 'Profoundly Flawed' U.S. News Rankings (Nov. 16, 2022)
- Harvard Joins Yale In No Longer Participating In The U.S. News Law School Rankings (Nov. 16, 2022)
- UC-Berkeley Is The Third Top 10 Law School To Refuse To Participate In The U.S. News Rankings (Nov. 17, 2022)
- With Stanford, Columbia And Georgetown, 6 Of The T14 Refuse To Participate In The U.S. News Law School Rankings (Nov. 19, 2022)
- The U.S. News Law School Rankings Are Like The Hotel California: You Can Check Out Any Time You Like, But You Can Never Leave (Nov. 19, 2022)
- U.S. News Law School Rankings, ABA Optional LSAT, And Harvard Affirmative Action Supreme Court's Case (Nov. 21, 2022)
- Why Law Schools Outside The T14 (Like UCLA, Wash U, George Mason, Boston University, Pepperdine) May Refuse To Join The U.S. News Rankings Boycott (Nov. 21, 2022)
- Michigan Is Seventh T14 Law School To Refuse To Participate In The U.S. News Rankings (Nov. 21, 2022)
- Antitrust Implications Of The U.S. News Law School Rankings Boycott (Nov. 21, 2022)
- With Duke And Northwestern, Nine Of T14 Refuse To Participate In U.S. News Law School Rankings (Nov. 22, 2022)
- Colin Diver: Are The U.S. News Rankings Finally Going To Die? (Nov. 22, 2022)
- UCLA Is Tenth Top 15 Law School To Refuse To Participate In U.S. News Rankings (Nov. 22, 2022)
- Dan Solove: Slaying The U.S. News Law School Rankings Dragon (Nov. 23, 2022)
- Bill Henderson: The Dollars And Math Behind Yale Law School's Withdrawal From U.S. News — 'Are Limits on Federal Student Loans The Best Way To End The Rankings Madness?' (Nov. 23, 2022)
- UC-Irvine Is First Non-Elite Law School To Join U.S. News Rankings Boycott (Nov. 24, 2022)
- Chicago And (Maybe) Cornell Are First Elite Law Schools To Refuse To Join U.S. News Rankings Boycott (Nov. 24, 2022)
- Is This The Beginning Of The End Of The U.S. News Rankings Dominance? (Nov. 25, 2022)
- Penn Evaluates Whether To Join Boycott Of U.S. News Rankings By Ten Of Top 15 Law Schools (Nov. 26, 2022)
- Law School Admissions Without LSATs, Race, And Rankings (Nov. 26, 2022)
- Here’s Why Top Law Schools May Be Pulling Out Of The U.S. News Rankings (Nov. 28, 2022)
- Yale Law School’s Revolt Of The Elites (Nov. 28, 2022)
- UC-Davis Is 12th Law School (5th In California) To Boycott U.S. News Rankings (Nov. 29, 2022)
- More Commentary On The U.S. News Law School Rankings Boycott (Part 1) (Nov. 30, 2022)
- Wash U Joins Chicago And Cornell In Refusing To Boycott U.S. News Law School Rankings (Dec. 1, 2022)
- More Commentary On The U.S. News Law School Rankings Boycott (Part 2) (Dec. 2, 2022)
- With Penn And University Of Washington, 14 Law Schools Are Not Participating In U.S. News Rankings; Georgia Is 4th School To Resist Boycott (Dec. 3, 2022)
- George Mason Is 5th Law School To Reject Boycott Of U.S. News Rankings (Dec. 5, 2022)
- The Impact Of The U.S. News Rankings Boycott On Individual Law Schools (Dec. 5, 2022)
- NYU Is 15th Law School (And 12th Of Top 15) To Boycott U.S. News Rankings (Dec. 5, 2022)
- More Commentary On The U.S. News Law School Rankings Boycott (Part 3) (Dec. 6, 2022)
- U.S. News Law School Rankings Boycott Is A Big Nothing Burger (Dec. 8, 2022)
- A Law School Rankings Revolution? Hardly. (Dec. 9, 2022)
- The U.S. News Law School Rankings Boycott Is A Chance To Rethink Legal Education (Dec. 10, 2022)
- Virginia Is 16th Law School (And 13th Of Top 15) To Boycott U.S. News Rankings (Dec. 10, 2022)
- Simkovic On The U.S. News Rankings Boycott (Dec. 12, 2022)
- Deans Of Lower Ranked Law Schools Join Boycott And Criticize U.S. News Rankings (Dec. 13, 2022)
- Dean Of Georgia Law School (1 Of 5 Schools Publicly Not Joining Boycott Of U.S. News Rankings) Has Questions For The 17 Boycotting Schools (Dec. 15, 2022)
- New Hampshire Is 18th Law School To Boycott U.S. News Rankings (Dec. 16, 2022)
- CLEA Statement On U.S. News Rankings For Clinical Programs (Dec. 17, 2022)
- More Commentary On The U.S. News Law School Rankings Boycott (Part 4) (Dec. 20, 2022)
- With Southwestern, 10% Of ABA-Accredited Law Schools Are Boycotting The U.S. News Rankings (Dec. 20, 2022)
- Cal-Western Is 20th Law School To Boycott U.S. News Rankings (Dec. 24, 2022)
- Morrison: AALS Should Provide A Law School Guide To Supplant The U.S. News Rankings (Dec. 27, 2022)
- Muller: What Is The Endgame For Law Schools Boycotting The U.S. News Rankings? (Dec. 28, 2022)
- With UC-SF, St. John's, And Idaho: 23 Schools Are Now Boycotting The U.S. News Law School Rankings (Jan. 7, 2023)
- U.S. News Law School Rankings Boycott Scorecard (Jan. 9, 2023)
- Fordham Is 24th Law School To Boycott U.S. News Rankings (Jan. 14, 2023)
- Roger Williams Is 25th Law School To Boycott U.S. News Rankings (Jan. 18, 2023)
- Law School Rankings Revolt Spreads To Medical Schools: #1 Harvard Will Not Send Data To U.S. News (Jan. 18, 2023)
- With Maryland, USF, And South Texas, 28 Schools Are Now Boycotting The U.S. News Law School Rankings (Jan. 19, 2023)
- U.S. News Law School Rankings Boycott Scorecard (Updated) (Jan 23, 2023)
- Will The U.S. News Law School Rankings Arms Race Resume In Three Years? (Jan. 23, 2023)
- The Clash And The U.S. News Law School Rankings: Should I Stay Or Should I Go? (Jan. 25, 2023)
- With Gonzaga, Quinnipiac, Rutgers, And Seattle, 36 Law Schools Are Boycotting The U.S. News Rankings (Jan. 26, 2023)
- With Vanderbilt, Wisconsin, Tulane, And Creighton, 40 Law Schools Are Boycotting The U.S. News Rankings (Jan. 28, 2023)
- WSJ: Rebellion Over U.S. News Rankings Seems Likely To Fail (Jan. 30, 2023)
- Two Perspectives On The Growing U.S. News Rankings Boycott (Feb. 2, 2023)
- In Defense Of The U.S. News Law School Rankings (Feb. 4, 2023)
- Will The Boycott Actually Strengthen The U.S. News Rankings? (Feb. 9, 2023)
- With Connecticut And Pittsburgh, 42 Law Schools Are Boycotting The U.S. News Rankings (Feb. 10, 2022)
U.S. News Response to Boycott
- In Response To Boycott, U.S. News Dramatically Changes Law School Rankings Methodology. Who Are The Winners And Losers? Will Harvard Be #1? (Jan. 2, 2023)
- U.S. News Drops Student Loans And Employment-At-Graduation (In Addition To Expenditures-Per-Student) From Forthcoming Law School Rankings (Jan. 3, 2023)
- Muller: Did Schools Boycotting The U.S. News Rankings Kill Law Faculty's Golden Goose? (Jan. 4, 2023)
- More Coverage Of The U.S. News Law School Rankings Methodology Changes (Jan. 4, 2023)
- Muller: Winners And Losers In The Elimination Of At-Graduation Employment In The U.S. News Law School Rankings (Jan. 11, 2023)
- U.S. News Provides Additional Information On Forthcoming Law School Rankings (Jan. 13, 2023)
- Summary Of Changes To The Forthcoming U.S. News Law School Rankings (Jan. 14, 2023)
- Muller Models And Projects Forthcoming U.S. News Law School Rankings (Jan. 18, 2023)